It’s a bit embarrassing to take a sick day when you’re working remotely. Because what you’re telling your boss is that you can’t sit at your desk and push little buttons on your computer. That’s all the way in the other room. I could die on the way.
Obviously, part of the reason we take sick days when working in an office is so we don’t give everyone the plague and cause the company to go bankrupt. So when you remove that “I’m doing everyone a favor by not going in” element, it becomes hard to justify. It’s hard enough to make your coworkers sick with Slack and Zoom, though I’ve tried.
What’s worse is that while taking a day off sick for an in-person job can be incredibly fulfilling and relaxing, it just doesn’t feel as good for a remote position. Having to leave home and go to work is half the reason you call in sick. That is too much effort. I don’t even like to throw my trash on the curb when I’m sick.
When work is four feet away
Staying home when you can be all the way in the office with the bright fluorescent lights and the awful coffee and that guy who talks to you every time you pass his desk feels wonderful, and a small part of you is almost glad to be sick. so you don’t have to be there. Recovering wrapped in forty blankets is much better than sitting in a cubicle where there’s a draft.
When you take a sick day off remote work, your computer is right there, taunting you, inviting you to sit down, do some work, and be done with this sick day nonsense. Which is why every time I take a day off sick from remote work, I put my computer away in the closet, even though it always beeps in the distance like “The Tell-Tale Heart.”
The level of satisfaction from taking a sick day seems to depend on how much effort it takes to get to work and what you do. For example, I worked in labor for years, as a trucker, in shipping receiving factories, etc., and calling in sick for those jobs was more satisfying than anything else. It’s like not going to the gym a thousand times.
With remote work, you tend to spend a lot of the day under the covers, watching some show while you slurp soup and then think, “Damn, I could have sat in front of my computer.”
Some remote sick days make sense
Of course, there are plenty of valid reasons to take a sick day with remote work. Working while sick can slow down the healing process and sometimes we know we’re so out of it we can’t focus and it’s just going to take too long to produce terrible work. Then our boss will think it’s us, not the disease.
You tend to keep reminding your boss and coworkers that you’re sick as an excuse for whatever crap you’re producing, and you realize it would have been easier to leave your laptop closed.
Once, at a former remote job, I probably had the worst fever I’ve ever experienced, but foolish pride made me insist on working, even when my boss told me to just take the day off. I sat in front of my computer, and the last thing I remember is waking up in bed hours later in a cold sweat. I told her what happened, and she said, “See.”
Can you imagine if he had done that without telling her he was sick? He would have assumed I had a drinking problem.
Tips for the Best Remote Sick Day
It seems counterintuitive for recovery, but if you want to make the most of your remote work sick day, it may be best to head outside. Go to the park and cough into a tree, buy more soup and cold medicine than you really need at the supermarket, go for a walk in the country and almost have an accident when you sneeze; Whatever you decide on, it will provide you with a separation from your home work environment, and you will truly feel like you took the day off.
Just know that when you return to your remote job the next day, you won’t get the hero welcome like you once did at the office. “I didn’t even know you were gone,” your coworker will say.